Clashes between cadres of the BJP and SDPI, political wing of the Popular Front of India (PFI), last week over a woman’s complaint of being troubled was the trigger behind the murder of a 25-year-old ABVP worker in Kannur on Friday evening, according to police. Less than three hours after the murder at 5 pm on Friday, Wayanad police arrested four suspects, identified as Muhammed, Minikkol Salim, Neeveli Ameer and Palayod Shahim.
Kannur SP G Siva Vikram said Shyama Prasad’s murder had a political motive. “He was killed in retaliation to an attack on an SDPI worker in the area by BJP-RSS workers a week ago. There was tension in the area between BJP and SDPI workers after one complaint of troubling a woman. An SDPI worker was severely injured in an attack by BJP-RSS workers last week and the culprits are in police custody,” Vikram said.
Soon after Prasad’s murder, police sent out warnings to all neighbouring districts to nab the suspects who fled in a car. “We tightened security along the Kerala-Karnataka border in Wayanad and Kasaragod… We passed the message to all police stations with available inputs and tightened security along the connecting roads and highways in the region that helped nab them,” Vikram said.
The four suspects were taken in custody within three hours, according to police. “They were part of an SDPI team mobilised from various parts of Kannur district for the murder,” Vikram said.
The assailants were wearing masks when they attacked Prasad. “They continued to hack him to ensure his death until a group of daily wage workers who worked at a nearby plot entered the scene,” an officer said.
A senior police officer probing the case said Prasad, local ABVP leader and ‘mukhya shikshak’ of RSS shakha at Kannavam, had a criminal past and was accused in the murder of CPM worker O Preman near Koothuparamba two years ago. Prasad was pursuing a diploma course at a state-run ITI in Kannur.
The BJP observed a 12-hour strike in Kannur to protest against the murder and BJP state president Kummanam Rajasekharan said that “four members of a jihadi organisation” were arrested. “Outfits like SDPI should be banned. Even parties like Indian Union Muslim League have made such a demand,” Rajasekharan told reporters here.